Bartolome de las Casas was born in Seville around 1484. At the age of eighteen he left for the New World, where he participated in the conquest of Cuba and witnessed the first full-scale massacre of an Indian community. He became a priest and entered the Dominican order. He dedicated himself to the protection and defence of the Indians.
Anthony Pagden teaches in the Department of History at John Hopkins University, Baltimore. He is the author of The Fall of Natural Man and Spanish Imperialism and the Political Imagination.
Nigel Griffin read modern languages at Oxford and was a Fellow of New College in the 1970s. He now concentrates on writing and translating and has worked for both the UN and the World Bank.
Bernal Díaz del Castillo, himself a soldier under Cortes, presents a fascinatingly detailed description of the Spanish landing in Mexico in 1520 and their amazement at the city, the exploitation of the natives for gold and other treasures, the expulsion and flight of the Spaniards, their regrouping and eventual capture of the Aztec capital.